How Can I Turn My Walk Commute into a Run Commute?

Q  I’m a 26-year-old female and for the past two years I have been walking the 5.5km round trip to work everyday, taking the train in between. My question is, how can I go from walking to running? Like many people I struggle with early mornings and after a day at work I find it hard to go running once I’m home, so I thought I could incorporate running into my journey home from work. Also, I want to start running to lose weight and gain more energy. What type of running should I be doing to achieve this? – CARIS


A  By walking 5.5km to and from work every day for the past two years, you have developed a sound base for moving into running. I suggest you begin running by incorporating short run intervals into your walking routine. You can begin with a short run interval of 20 to 30 seconds and then gradually increase this run interval over time as you gain conditioning. You can build up to running continuously for the entire distance or you may find a run/walk interval that you prefer and stick with that.

To begin your new running routine, start off with walking for several minutes to warm up first, and then try running for 20 to 30 seconds. After the run interval, return to walking until you feel you have recovered enough to run again. Remember, that the “run” portion is NOT a sprint! The pace for this run interval should cause your breathing and heart rate to increase, yet you should still be able to speak. If you cannot talk while running, slow it down. While the run interval should be challenging, it should still feel “do-able.” Here’s a sample workout: walk for 3-5 minutes for a warm up, then run for 30 seconds, then walk for 2 minutes, then run again for 30 seconds, and so on. Include a cool down period at the end of your workout by walking for a few minutes before stopping.

Every third week, you try increasing the length of the run interval. Increase from 20 or 30 seconds to 40 or 50 seconds, while keeping the walk interval the same length of time. When you feel the walk interval is becoming very easy, begin reducing the walk time gradually. By gradually increasing the run time and reducing the walk time, you will be on your way!

Start your running program off right by making an important investment in the appropriate running shoe for you. Obtain a professional shoe fit at a specialty running store to make sure you purchase the right one. The shoe should feel perfect from the start. Also, running clothes made from dri-fit high tech fabrics make running in all weather conditions more comfortable, so consider purchasing some new clothes too. Wear reflective clothing if you will be running after dark and always be aware of your surroundings when you run, watch out for traffic and other people. For this reason, if you choose to listen to music while you run/walk, leave one ear bud out so you can hear what’s going on around you.

You may find you want to increase your distance beyond your work commute, so keep in mind that as you add mileage, you need to do so in small, gradual increments so your body has time to adapt to these new demands. Increase weekly mileage by 10 per cent a week to reduce risk of injury or cause unnecessary fatigue. Consider looking for a race in your area to target too because working towards a goal really helps keep your training on track by making you accountable on a daily basis. – SUSAN

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